How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made

How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made

YOUR GUIDE TO THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF MAKING CHINESE SOUPS

Is there a benefit to low or high intensity?
What is a measurable property of intensity?
What happens if you under or over cook?

All great questions!  Read more to explore the answers to these questions.

There are 5 main cooking methods (that I know of, but would love to hear more if you’ve got some!) in cooking Chinese soups.

This image is a summary of the cooking methods available for cooking Chinese soups, but allow me to elaborate more below.

Why does this matter?

Depending on the soup outcome, how long you cook it for, how hot the heat source, and the equipment you use matters!

The image attached shows the relationship between time and temperature when it comes to cooking Chinese soups. That’s why it’s important to know what soup you want to cook and how much prep and cook time you have until service!

For example, if you’re coming home from a long day of work and have about an hour (or even less), quick boil Chinese soups are your go to solution. I’ll often use ground meats and smaller cut vegetables with less herbs for these types of soups such as a cabbage and pork quick boil or Chinese corn and egg drop soup.

How do you measure flavour intensity?

So my thought process around this is, well, there’s also a component in Cantonese called “loong”. Which means how intense tasting something is. This is the subjective property I’m using for this seeing as it might be the easiest barring any real scientific measures we can pull off at home! So you may have you own gauge as well.

This flavour intensity (if scientifically defined) is the nutrient count by volume of soup. I’m still thinking on how to measure it, but for the sake of just getting on with it and cooking soup, it’ll come with experience. And I don’t really count adding powdered soup or premade broth as natural soup intensity, but do encourage to add these in situations where you need more flavours.

For example, quick boil soups have less flavour intensity because the ingredients spend less time in a heated environment (although arguably, some ingredients don’t need that much time to cook like leafy vegetables). Double-boiled herbal bone broths are the most dense because of their cooking time needed for the bones and herbs to be extracted.

Would love your thoughts on this as well!

 

What happens if you under or over cook?

Same concept for cooking food, although less consequence unless you evaporate all the water and burn your pot (which I have done before!).

Under cooking soups, as per their suggested cook times) will either leave it under flavored, ingredients not softened, or herbs not fully extracted in benefits. Anything over 20 minutes of at least medium boil should cook it all, so raw consumption usually isn’t a risk.

Over cooking soups is what I would err on the side of instead. When in doubt, boil more! Especially if you’re using bones and Chinese herbs, they love longer boils.

STEEPING

Primarily used for herbal teas.  Steeping is best for dried flowers, roots, seeds, and fruits or vegetables.  Steeping is the process by which you use the heat source of the boiling water to cook or tease out the flavours of the ingredients.  This takes less energy and is the quickest way to make Chinese teas or herbal drinks, although it’s best with flowers and thinly sliced roots.  For more potency in your herbal tea or tonic,

Steeping varies between 5-10 minutes depending on the ingredients and I’ll usually do it directly in a cup and cover.  

This is one of the best options for traveling, making something at the office, or you want to throw something together quickly.  I’ll actually bring my ingredients in a baggie and carry it with me (along with a flask!).

For example, this chrysanthemum and hibiscus honey tea is a great herbal tea for cooling and calming the body!

 

QUICK BOIL SOUPS

Quick boiling is the quickest method to get a hearty, warm, sufficiently cooked Chinese soup if you’re in a rush, want something fast, or really want those quick flavours without the long boil.  

A few key things about quick boil soups is that they tend to have easier to cook ingredients.  You don’t always use bones, but if you do, likely pork ribs or chicken wings and thighs will work as these soups tend to cook between 20-40 minutes in time.

Use leafy vegetables, or thinly sliced or cubed root vegetables such as your carrots, radishes, or melons.  I will usually cube them quite small and pair with ground meats or tofu.  Get creative!  Anything you can do in a hot pot style, you can definitely use for quick boil soups (such as thinly sliced beefs and pork).  Often times, these soups will also require additional flavouring such as pre made broth bases or soy sauce, salt, chicken soup powder, etc…

Chinese herbal tonics (Chinese medicines) are often boiled in this fashion for consumption.

Desserts are also made using this method of cooking.

One of my favourite quick boil soups is this easy one pot cabbage and sukiyaki pork quick boil soup.  It eats like a meal, serve with rice, and the soup is also delicious!  Perfect for the whole family!

THERMAL POT BOIL

This Recovery Healing Soup (for coughs) was made in a thermal pot and all the mushrooms, corn, and carrots were amazingly soft and cooked when dinner rolled around.  I prepared this in the morning and let it sit in the thermal pot all day.

The thermal pot is one of the most amazing heat saving and efficient cooking methods available when making Chinese soups.  For more information on thermal pots, you can check out this post on My Introduction to Thermal Pots (actually, was super excited to unpack it!).  It’s almost like a set it and forget it thing!

The thermal pot is similar to a long boil, except it uses the induction technology to gently cook itself.  It’s definitely best used for ingredients that require more heat to cook, so avoid leafy vegetables (until the end) as they will overcook or disintegrate.  Bones and root vegetables, along with Chinese herbs are amazing and will soften over time. 

I will usually prepare and pre-boil the soup for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day and let it slowly cook in the pot until dinner.  Just take out and reheat to a boil and serve!

 

 

STOVE TOP BOIL

This is likely the most common way of cooking Chinese soups traditionally.  In Cantonese, it’s called “煲湯” simply, which is boiling soup.  In the end, you should have a soup that’s also called “老火湯” (lo fo tong) with a literal translation of “old fire soup”.  These soups are boiled a lot longer on low heat and just gently simmers until the flavours are deep, the meat is falling off the bones, and the soup is often a milky, thicker color because of its density.

These soups often have a mix of protein, Chinese herbs, and more root vegetables over leaf vegetables.  

This type of cooking method is energy intensive.  I usually boil first for about 30 minutes on medium-high heat and then reduce to a low covered boil for 2-3 hours. 

One of my favourite stove top boils to create those deep, intense flavours is this Abalone Chicken Herbal Soup.  Anything with chicken and herbs usually taste better as a longer boil. 

DOUBLE BOIL

The double-boiling method in Chinese soup making is one of old traditions and milking the ingredients for all its flavours and nutrition.  In double-boiling, the soup itself doesn’t directly come into contact with the heat source, but rather uses either steam or boiling water as direct contact.  The most common type of double-boiling is to use a ceramic or glass pot submerged in a pot of water.  Or, in some cases, you use a melon to store the soup and submerge or steam that in pot of water. 

The purpose of this is so that the soup itself doesn’t have the same bubbling effect and simply circulates within the inner pot itself, thereby not disturbing or physically breaking up the contents of the soup.  The flavours still some out, but most of the ingredients are intact!  This soup definitely takes more work, more equipment, is just as energy intensive as long boils, but does create a different type of soup profile.  There are certain soups that are perfect and designed for double-boils such as Korean Ginseng and Chicken soup

What’s the best method for you?

The things to evaluate to choose the best Chinese soup cooking method for you is to look at:

  • How much time do you have?  Quick boils are faster and more energy efficient where as you really need a few hours for long boils and double-boiling.
  • What are the ingredients you’d like to use?  Leafy vegetables are usually quick boils or if they are used in long boils, are added at the end (like watercress).  Big-boned ingredients (such as pork legs, whole chickens, beef bones) will need a longer boil to allow the meats to fully soften and to penetrate into the marrows.  
  • What equipment is available?  Thermal boiling and double boiling are equipment dependent.  So you’ll definitely need these to make these types of soups.
  • What are the desired outcomes of making a soup?  Of course, beyond tasting yummy!  That’s a given!  Sometimes we make certain soups depending on weather, our bodies, our conditions, how we’re feeling, the season, and traditions.  For example, in the winter, I tend to do more double-boil and long boils because these methods often produce more warming soups.  You can check out my post on Using TCM concepts for Chinese Soups!

Would love to hear about your experiences with these types of cooking methods and whether you have other ones!  I am always looking for ways to try new soups, experiment with new cooking techniques, and blending modern with traditional, eastern with western!  Enjoy!!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.  

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Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Soup Name:

Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone
 

Traditional Chinese Name:

鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng)

This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste.

Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.

One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups – ever!  And it’s special when I add abalone because it’s delicious to eat as part of the meal and brings a special savory taste to the soup.  You can’t really taste the sea, but it does really accent the soup!  This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste.  I made this soup for my daughters post menstruation and it’s perfect for cold winter days or when you’d like to replenish qi or blood and have excess yin (feeling cold in the limbs, have a pale tongue, pale complexion).  

I buy my abalone frozen from the local supermarkets.  These are a little smaller ones and are perfect for soups.  To use, you can thaw the night before or soak in cool water.  Remove from the shell gently, ensuring you don’t break any of it and then you can use a knife or your fingers to gently remove the bottom portion (also the stomach and reproduction parts of the abalone).  Be sure to also wash them.  I’ll use a toothbrush because it’s smaller and can get into the crevices of the abalone.  Some people use a brush as well.  You can also do this under running water.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 3 hours

Total time: 3 hours 15 mins

Serves: 4 bowls of soup

Ingredients

  • 1 whole fresh silkie black chicken
  • 5 fresh (or frozen) abalone
  • 2-3 slices of dong quai
  • 10 dried red dates
  • 10 dried dragon eyes
  • 5 dried Chinese Yam
  • 2 L of water

Cooking Instructions

  1. Begin to boil a separate pot to blanch your chicken in
  2. Prepare your chicken (I usually remove the legs and wings and quarter it)
  3. Prepare the abalone by removing it from it’s shell and removing its organs
  4. In the blanching pot, pre-boil the chicken and abalone to remove excess debris, blood, bones, and fat.  Once it boils again for 5 minutes, you can remove it from the hot water.  It doesn’t need to be fully cooked as that will happen in the soup.
  5. Begin to boil your soup water
  6. Once your soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
  7. Boil on high for 30 mins and reduce to a low boil for another 2.5 hours
  8. Serve and enjoy!  No salt needed – try it!  This soup is delicious!!

Benefits

Precautions

  • This is a warm soup, so not suggested for those who have yin deficiency (too much yang) in their bodies

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Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year’s!!

Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!!

As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what’s called “New Year’s Cake”.  It’s basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and chewy.  These days, there are so many variations of this dish, such as coconut flavored, red dates, ginger flavored, and a range of colors that these cakes come in. 

The characteristics of this dish is defined by it’s shape as well as it’s name.  It’s round because when wishing people good health, fortune, and happiness, you want it to go endless (so it doesn’t end).  It’s name also implies “year high” in Cantonese, which means, wishing you a fruitful and boundless growth in the year.  

So don’t forget to enjoy this over the New Year’s!  It’s really only available during this time commercially, or you make your own.  This year, I had an Auntie give me a few batches.  I will be trying my own next time for sure time permitting!

 

Name:

New Year’s Rice Cakes

Traditional Chinese Name:

年糕 (nian gao)

This dish is sweet to taste and slightly warming

Visit us on YouTube for cooking videos.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 20 mins

Serves: 1 batch (5″ diameter) serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of sweet rice cakes (5″ in size)
  • 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 2 eggs

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cut up the sweet rice cakes into your chosen size (thickness and length).  I like square pieces because they’re easier to eat and handle when cooking, especially when they get soft!  I tend to use about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  2. In a bowl, scramble 2 eggs (use 2 eggs for a 5″ size, if you want to make half, use 1 egg)
  3. In a shallow pan on low-medium heat, add your butter until it’s melted
  4. Then swash the sliced sweet rice cakes fully in the eggs and lay gently on the pan
  5. Cook on low-medium heat until they soften and lightly brown and turn over and repeat until the cakes are soft and you can poke them (squishy soft!)
  6. Serve right away and enjoy!

Tips

  • use eggs to prevent them from sticking to each other
  • use butter (oil works) in a warm pan
  • low-medium heat max. It’s a slow cook, so allocate time
  • 2 eggs for 1 round 5.5″ rice cake
  • serve right away so it’s soft, this is best!

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

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How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU’RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION?

I’m always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full blown experiment on my end.  I truly wanted to see if this was working!  And so I applied some learning from my Engineering background and took a stab at testing this theory.  It’s not an exact science and was something fun to try!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.

Why is blood circulation important to TCM?

Blood is a vital substance that circulates the in the vessels and carries nutrition throughout the body.  It is important in maintaining vital activities in the body, including nourishing and moisturizing it.

The circulation of blood relies on the pushing function of the qi.  This is why it’s equally important to have strong qi.  Blood and qi are like interconnected and interdependent.  Qi is the motivating source for the circulation of blood.

The better your blood circulates:

  • The more moisture and nourishments that travels to your organs, tissues, body, limbs, and mind continuously.
  • The more distributed our qi is because blood is the carrier of qi.  If our blood becomes collapsed and stagnant, so will our qi.
  • The more vigorous and lively we are because blood also carries oxygen.
  • The easier it is to stay warm (as body energy and warmth is generated from qi) and maintain good body function.

 

How to do a foot soak

The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm water.  What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead.  At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!

I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to.  You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.

What you’ll need:

  • A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
  • A comfortable place to sit
  • Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
  • A book or something to occupy your time
  • A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
  • A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)

If you’re testing time, add in:

  • A timer

Try foot soaks once a week!  It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.

Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?

Click on the video below to hear about how I turned this concept into more of a science experiment (for myself) and how I knew I was improving my blood circulation.  A highly fascinating thing to try!

 

The teas and soups I drank to improve blood circulation

To improve blood circulation, there are a few soups or teas you can consider making to help you with this.  Keep in mind, the key principles and things to note are:

  • We want to encourage a more yang state in the body, which means more active and flowing 
  • To generate yang states, this is generally associated with consumption of warmer soups and teas (see below for the ones I was consuming)
  • If you’re feeling too heaty (excess yang), you can hold off on the warming ingredients and go with the neutral ones for improve circulation (or reducing stagnant blood)

 

Warming ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

Neutral ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Soup Name: Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone  Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng) This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste. Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups - ever!  And it's...

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

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The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience

The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience

The Hong Kong Grocery Shopping Experience!

I love the diversity of grocery shopping in Asia, especially in Hong Kong!  You’ve got so many choices, market types, and variety!  Part of the beauty of being in Hong Kong is this exact accessibility to a lot of the Asian cuisines, ingredients, and shared experiences.

There’s no right or wrong in how to make Chinese soups.  The simple act of bringing together raw and dried ingredients to create a concoction of love to share with our friends and family is highly rewarding!

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring our love of Chinese soups to the world!

TYPES OF GROCERY STORES:

The Japanese Superstores

 

You’ve got your Juscos, Apitas, AEONs, Don Don Donki, and other Japanese department stores that come with a lower level grocery store.  These are clean, bright, and carry a happy variety of Japanese products.  They also have a fantastic selection of sushi, seafood, and cooked foods!  

A lot in these shops are imported, so don’t expect a lot of English labels, but they do over label with some Cantonese and minimal English.  And, most of their products are super cute and have fantastic packaging!

The Wet Mart

One of my favourite and places to shop when it comes to making Chinese food and soups.  This is as local as it gets!  It does take some getting used to, once you overcome some of the smells, the wet floors, and the truly open market concept.  The amazing thing about wet marts is that you buy the amount you want.  There are some prepackaged items such as tulip bulbs, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, but in general, meat, seafood, and vegetables are sold in whatever amount you want!  And they fascinating thing is that everything is calculated in terms of “catty”, which is equivalent to 604.8 g!  Sometimes, I just make the size of meat or vegetables I want and they adjust accordingly.  Explore my video on my wet mart shopping experience!

 

The Local Chains

These are the most common ones that are distributed everywhere.  You can find them in most of Hong Kong, in almost every neighbourhood and they carry a variety of local and mixed groceries and goodies.  I tend to go to these for basics such as rice, toiletries, and condiments.  The great thing is that they do something localize it more depending on the area it’s in.  Some may carry more western goods, while others also lean towards Japanese or Korean.  I like these.  They are predictable, stable, and also do online shipping, which is amazing when you want to buy the heavy things like toilet paper, drinks, water, rice.

 

The Independents

These are the mom and pop shops.  There are a few categories which include:  dried foods, convenience stores, candy, fruit stands, herbs, frozen foods, etc…  These are also amazing and really have that neighbourhood feel to them.  You get to know the owners closely and then share experiences and ideas.  This is where some of my soup ideas and how to use the ingredients come from!

 

EXPLORE MORE

How Different Styles of Chinese Soups are Made

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Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Soup Name: Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone  Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng) This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste. Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups - ever!  And it's...

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

Chinese Herbal Soup with Abalone

Soup Name: Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone  Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng) This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste. Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups - ever!  And it's...

Sweet Rice Cakes for Chinese New Year’s!

Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK

Hot and Sour Soup

Soup Name: Hot and Sour Soup

Chinese Name: 酸辣湯 (suān là tāng)

Introduction:

This American-style Chinese hot and sour soup is a very popular thick soup that contains strong flavors not typically found in traditional Chinese soups (namely spicy and sour flavors).   It can commonly be found in many Chinese restaurants in Western countries.   There are numerous different ways to make this soup, including a vegetarian option (remove the meat-based ingredients).   As variations of this soup vary widely as do preferences over levels of sweetness, sourness and spiciness, many ingredients can be added “to taste”.

What Ingredients are required?

  • 1 pound fresh pork tenderloin (optional)
  • 1 block  fresh tofu
  • 1 handful dried lily flowers
  • 1 handful cut wood ear
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbls soy sauce
  • 2 tbls rice vinegar (can substitute regular vinegar)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (thickener)
  • 1 tsp sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tsp white pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Sesame oil to taste
  • 2 L of water or chicken broth

How do I prepare it?

  1. Wash and soak the wood ear for 1 hour.  Trim any hard parts and then cut into 3 cm slices
  2. Wash and soak the lily flower in room temperature water for 30 minutes and trim and remove hard pieces
  3. Wash and cube the tofu
  4. Wash and slice the pork tenderloin into short, thin strips
  5. Boil your soup water / broth
  6. Add in the above ingredients and boil until the pork is cooked
  7. Add soy sauce, vinegar, white pepper and sugar
  8. Beat the eggs in a bowl.   While the water is at full boil, slowly dribble the egg into the soup in a circular pattern to create thin ribbons of cooked egg in the soup
  9. Mix the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of hot water until fully dissolved.   Pour mixture into the soup and boil to thicken.
  10. Finally, add sesame oil, chili oil and sprinkle the top with green onions
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Lily flower is said to moisten lungs and alleviate coughs
  • Wood ear is said to increase fluidity of the blood and improve circulation
  • Once you have the ingredients, this soup is easy to make and the flavors can easily be adjusted during the cooking process to suit your personal preferences

Any precautions?

  • Spicy food is considered “heaty” and should be eaten in moderation